Review: All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1-6

Mitch Nissen Mitch Nissen
Expert Contributor
August 3rd, 2017

Grew up reading comic books in the 90's. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel's cosmic universe are my favorites.

Review: All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1-6
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Three months have passed since Marvel relaunched their core Guardians of the Galaxy book in the wake of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ departure from the title last April. Since May we have received six regular issues of All-New Guardians of the Galaxy plus a Free Comic Book Day special. ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen takes a look at the run so far.

The Guardians of the Galaxy have existed since 1969 and in that time there have been a few iterations of the team. In recent years Marvel has consistently published a Guardians book, yet the Guardians have been anything but consistent.

An Era of Uncertainty

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After Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning wrapped up their run on the Guardians of the Galaxy with The Thanos Imperative in 2011, the Guardians underwent numerous changes and alterations. When Marvel Comics relaunched the Guardians of the Galaxy in February of 2013 the Guardians had effectively been born again.

Since the end of the DnA run, the Guardians comic books have been on shaky ground. Writer Brian Michael Bendis took his own approach to the characters and virtually ignored the DnA continuity. Then James Gunn’s film was released offering a completely different look and tone to the property. As a result Bendis’ writing shifted in tone to reflect the film’s approach offering yet another take on the comics.

Guardians

Credit: Marvel Comics

The lack of continuity between the previous volumes, constantly shifting roster of characters, and fluctuating tone of Bendis’ run resulted in an unstable and inconsistent chapter in the history of the Guardians.

While the Guardians flourished on the big screen, the comic books have yet to reconcile themselves with the films, the previous comic book iterations, and have yet to find a core tone that can influence the future of the series.

Enter Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kruder, and Ive Svorcina.

After an impressive four year run, Bendis’ reign came to an end. Rather than continue what Bendis had left for them, Marvel relaunched the book under a new title with an entirely new creative team and a new release schedule.

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All-New Guardians of the Galaxy wipes the slate clean once more. Gone is the extended roster of Earth heroes from Bendis’ run as well as the Earth-based setting. Once more we find the Guardians venturing into the cosmos.

Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kruder, and Ive Svorcina pair the team down to the core five characters from the films and place the focus squarely upon them. The creative team incorporates a few other elements from the films as well such as the spaceship Milano, Baby Groot, as well as the humorous tone. The initial opponents for the Guardians are the Elders of the Universe, the Collector and Grandmaster.

These elements from the films help new readers familiar with the movies make the transition from the screen to the page. While heavily influenced by the films, Duggan hasn’t let his writing become dictated by the films.

With six issues already released there seems to be almost as many plot threads running through. In the Free Comic Book Day Special, a plot thread involving the Raptors and the Nova Corps is set up. Issue #1 lays out a host of plot threads, the initial one being a quarrel between the Elders, the Collector and Grandmaster. Prevailing threads also include why Groot has suddenly become Baby Groot and who is sapping (get it?) his power? Why is Drax now a pacifist? And why is Gamora so moody?

Star-Lord is still the team leader and Rocket is still the snarky second in command. They’re essentially the main characters but placing the focus on Drax, Groot, and Gamora is both refreshing and heartily welcomed.

Guardians

Credit: Marvel Comics

Duggan references the Guardians time on Earth, a nod to Bendis’ run, and has begun exploring characters and plot threads from Abnett and Lanning’s run. Duggan has taken even deeper cuts from Marvel’s cosmic history too such as events from Jim Starlin’s Avengers Annual #7.

In three short months Gerry Duggan has already begun weaving together continuities from across multiple eras. He’s crafted a story accessible to the fans of the films while bridging the gap between the Bendis and DnA volumes. On top of it all Duggan is forging the future for these characters, crafting a new story all his own.

If Duggan can pull this off, reconciling the DnA continuity with current continuity, as well as the films, it’ll be quite an achievement.

It’s good then that Duggan has such a competent collaborator in Aaron Kruder.

Kruder’s artwork captures the jovial tone of the book. He rides the line between a cartoonish and realistic style, shifting smoothly from comedic moments into serious situations. Very few artists can manage such tricky transitions.

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Kruder redesigns a few of the characters too: Gamora and Drax along with the central Raptor (who looks strikingly like the cosmic being Oblivion). Gamora is given a sleeker and simpler look and Drax now dresses like a monk for reasons relating to his particular plotline. All of Kruder’s redesigns feel natural and in keeping with the characters personalities and past designs.

And then there are the crazy alien creatures and far out landscapes. Kruder’s creatures, alien tech, and distant worlds are wild and imaginative. Indeed, he seems right at home in this cosmic setting.

Ive Svorcina’s colors bring out the linework of Kruder’s pencils clearly and lend the book a crisp appearance. Svorcina’s colors are bright and vibrant and are equally responsible for the book’s fun tone.

With books released twice a month, Kruder and Svorcina aren’t able to draw and color every issue. And not every plot thread is touched upon in every issue by Duggan either. Kruder has supplied the art for all but two issues, #3 and #5.

Issue #3’s art is by Frazer Irving and it is gorgeous in a completely different way from Kruder’s; rendered with a stylized photorealism and heavily reliant on shadow and light. The issue also introduces Gamora’s plot thread, which has proven the most interesting of the various plots and hopefully will  have major consequences for future issues.

Guardians

Credit: Marvel Comics

Issue #5’s art is by Chris Samnee with colors by Matthew Wilson. The story in that issue is lighthearted and the art style reflects this tone. It’s a Star-Lord solo story with little bearing, as of yet, on the other plots. One could almost skip this issue and you’d never notice.

While it is nice to have two issues per month of All-New Guardians, there are a few drawbacks. With guest artists filling in for Kruder here and there the books can feel disjointed from issue to issue. Issues #3, #4, and #5 are by three different art teams, each with very different styles.

The stories in each of the three issues listed above too appear vaguely independent of one another. Issues #3 and #5 are completely independent stories while issue #4 wraps up the initial plot with the Elders begun in issues #1 and #2.

So, while it is nice having two issues a month (if you can afford it), there is a lack of consistency from issue to issue at times, both in terms of art and story. The issues featuring guest artists being mostly independent stories from Kruder’s lends a sort of expendability to them, which may be by design. While issue #3 may be my favorite issue thus far, its content is briefly recapped in issue #6 by Kruder. One could, in theory, skip every issue with a guest artist and be all right as of now, thereby eliminating the inconsistency issues.

But then again you never know if a plotline from one of these issues may come around again in the future. Issue #3 may seem extraneous at the moment but it carries a weight of high importance to the future of this book. And if it does have bearing on a major plot thread in the future and one skips it, well then, you’re going to feel sorry you did.

Marvel Legacy

Speaking of the future, I couldn’t help but notice that the Marvel Legacy event coming up, and the recently advertised Avengers 1,000,000 BC, looks vaguely familiar. Didn’t Dan Abnett and Carlo Barberi do this exact same thing with last year’s Guardians of Infinity?

Shouldn’t the original Guardians of the Galaxy, the Guardians 3000, be playing a role in this Marvel Legacy event? And if we’re strictly speaking of the present meeting the past then shouldn’t the Guardians of the Galaxy from the year 1000 AD be included as well? And if the forthcoming major event revolves around the Infinity Stones shouldn’t the Guardians of Infinity (all three Guardians teams) be there?

As of yet there have been no indication that either the Guardians 3000 or Guardians 1000 will be showing up.

If I could ask anything of this book it’d be an epic trans-temporal, pan-galactic story arc involving all three teams of Guardians saving the past, present, and future together from a major threat, each team and each character being just as important to the story as the other.

All else aside, what Duggan, Kruder, Svorcina, and everyone else on All-New Guardians of the Galaxy are doing looks promising.

Overall All-New Guardians gives this longtime Guardians fan hope for the future.

What do you all think so far?

Let us know in the comments below.

Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche

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